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The Lord and the General Din of the World Paperback – 1996


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The confessional, lyric poems in Mead's stark, commanding first collection were selected by Philip Levine for the 1995 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry. Mead combines flinty honesty with an organic intellect (as when she arches the work of Bach and Van Gogh over transcendent moments in daily life). She employs taut, colloquial language and firmly places her personal history against a searching, almost existential understanding of the world-even at its most difficult. Many of these powerful, subtle poems concern her father's heroin addiction, focusing on how that life changes, or skews, what it means to be human. Mead pinpoints, and gives form to, tenuous, seemingly nameless emotions ("Somewhere there should be a place/ the exact shape of my emptiness-/ there should be a place/ responsible for taking one back"). That precision gives her poetry, though often spawned of rough subject-matter (addiction, abuse, suicide and profound isolation), the power of expertly cut gems.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Crossed and recrossed with a plain speech that is haunting in its directness, Mead's language firmly places the fact of suffering back on our plate. Yet she doesn't force us to eat, nor does she insist that we take her word for it--but we do take her at her word. These fully realized poems remind us of Robert Lowell's darker half--not as worldly, though worldly enough to make us feel as though we've taken a very long journey. And hers is a psalm or a prayer that we can understand; even when her pen leans into the very insular facts of a father in detox and his cruel role in her childhood, the echo of her song is understood, and a real sense of her experiences comes across. Jane Mead is well deserving of the literary prizes she has won, and her first book is well deserving of many readers she is sure to gain. Raul Nino --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books; 1st edition (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964115115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964115118
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,383,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jane Mead is the author of four full-length books of poetry, most recently MONEY MONEY MONEY|WATER WATER WATER, from Alice James Books. Her poems have been published widely in anthologies and journals and she is the recipient of grants and awards from the Whiting, Guggenheim and Lannan Foundations. She has taught at many colleges and universities including Colby College, The University of Iowa and Wake Forest University. She now manages the ranch her grandfather purchased in the early 1900's in Northern California, where she grows zinfandel and cabernet wine-grapes. She teaches in the Drew University low-residency MFA program in Poetry and Poetry in Translation.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Boddie on June 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
One of the first things you note is that Philip Levine's introductory note seems to be at a loss for words. It's understandable once you start reading. The pieces in this book are what poetry strives to be and usually falls short of. Mead's command of the language does not come across as effortless, rather it comes across as a true command, sure in its phrasing, confident in its images. It creates a deep and lasting resonance in the reader, calling out more of the truth about ourselves and our relation to the world than we are usually comfortable with.
This book changed the way I read poetry in much the same way as reading the Charters translation of "Baltics" did. It established for me a new reference point, a new vision of what is possible.
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Format: Hardcover
Julie Mead, The Lord and the General Din of the World (Sarabande, 1996)

I have some years where every book of poetry I touch turns out to be a hideous, steaming pot of dirt soup that should never have been published, and I have some years where every time I crack the cover on a volume by an author I've never read before, I discover pure gold. 2006 is rapidly turning into one of the latter years; I discovered the brilliance of David Berman last month, and now I happen upon Julie Mead's debut collection, The Lord and the General Din of the World.

I'll warn you flat out-- this is not a happy book. In fact, it's one of the most relentlessly downbeat books I've had the pleasure of happening across since Final Exit, Derek Humphry's masterpiece on ways to off oneself. And it's the kind of poetry that, in general, causes those who are not used to reading poetry to cringe. Allusions and symbols and subtext, oh my! But still, while angst-poetry is as common as salt in the Adriatic, Mead's stuff never comes off as simple angst-poetry; as one wag said many years ago of the first Death in June album (paraphrased, unfortunately, by yours truly, who doesn't have the quote to hand), Mead's work is equipped with a grim humour capable of slaughtering a thousand renegade Bunnymen:

"The blue smoke turns to water

in my lungs. Gale brings out

the pornographic comics she's working on,

in which her history teacher

meets an embarrassing end.

The teacher's kidnapped-- ransom set.

Nobody pays. The ransom is reduced

and reduced again. It would be awful--

ransom demanded and nobody

so much as notices. We laugh.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Jane Mead's "The Lord and the General Din of the World" introduces us as readers to a poet of such strength and power...unseen since, perhaps, the work of Sylvia Plath. She writes with unflinching honesty, plumbing the depths of the human interior, composing about pain and loss in a manner which many readers might dare not speak or think or dream of. Her quietness and control is all the more unsettling: a hallmark of our greatest poets. Her timing is flawless. In this her first book, she establishes her mastery instantly and beyond any question.
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